Window of opportunity to strengthen EU-Swiss cooperation, say MEPs
Constitutional affairs MEPs visited Switzerland on 17-19 September to learn more about the functioning of the Swiss federal system and assess ways to improve future EU-Switzerland relations.
During the mission, MEPs met the Presidents of the two chambers of the Swiss Parliament, Karin Keller-Sutter (Council of States) and Dominique de Buman (National Council), members of the Swiss Parliament's Committee on Political Institutions, its delegation for the relations with the European Parliament, Federal Chancellor of the Swiss Confederation Walter Thurnherr as well as representatives of the cantons and academics of the University of Bern.
In particular, the delegation aimed to get a direct assessment of the state-of-play of negotiations on an EU-Swiss institutional framework agreement governing the bilateral agreements securing Switzerland's access to the EU Single Market. The delegation ascertained that negotiations made great progress during the last months and are technically near to a conclusion.
Concluding the fact-finding mission, the Chair of the delegation Elmar Brok (EPP, DE) said:
“We got a deeper understanding of the unique and often complex features of the Swiss constitutional system. Good, mutual understanding of our constitutional and governance systems is essential to improve our cooperation.
More importantly, our visit has shown that there is still a possibility of finding a solution regarding the institutional agreement. However, the time is short and there is now a need for political will. Reaching an agreement is in the interest of both partners, the EU and Switzerland.”
Aside from Mr Brok, the following members also took part in the delegation: Alain Lamassoure (EPP, FR), Maite Pagazaurtundúa Ruiz (ALDE, ES) and Jørn Dohrmann (ECR, DK), the latter in his capacity as Chair of the EP delegation for relations with Switzerland and Norway and to the EU-Iceland Joint Parliamentary Committee and the European Economic Area (EEA) Joint Parliamentary Committee.